Month: October 2020

It’s boom time for discount stores in the land of luxury

In a country known for its love of the lavish and luxurious, discount stores are making a surprising impact on the UAE’s retail sector, with a spike in consumer spending during the past few months.

As the region has been rocked by salary cuts and job losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, insights from credit card company Visa reveal that, in non-food categories, discount stores, home improvement stores and pharmacies are the three categories with the largest growth in sales since lockdown measures were introduced.

At the same time, higher ticket value categories, such as apparel, accessories, electronics and department stores, saw double-digit drops in spending, according to Visa’s data.

This change in consumer spending habits can be partially attributed to the economic slowdown brought on by Covid-19, the company said, adding that the trends have been echoed in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

“We are seeing that the health crisis, income pressure, and more time at home is driving up pharmacies, discount stores and home improvement,” said Akshay Chopra, vice president of innovation and design for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa at Visa.

Chopra was speaking at the Future Retail Experiences media virtual webinar when Visa shared its data to support the retail sector in navigating the “new normal” where both the online and brick and mortar retail channels need to be seamlessly integrated.

Brands for Less co-founder Yasser Beydoun recently revealed that the company’s online business increased by 50 percent during the coronavirus crisis.

Increased spending on home improvement is also unusual in the Arab region, where ease of access to cheap handymen and repair people tends to make consumers snub retail outlets.

“Home improvement is very interesting because people are now spending so much more time at home that they are finally getting

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August Home Sales Soar to a Record High: 5 Top Housing Picks

The U.S. housing sector is on a roll, with an increasing number of Americans leveraging on the record-low mortgage rates. The latest pending home sales data for August reached the highest level on record as more Americans signed contracts to buy homes in the month, suggesting that the hot U.S. housing market will maintain the strong spell well into fall.

All-Time High Pending Home Sales

The National Association of Realtors or NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index — a forward looking indicator of home sales based on contact signing — soared 8.8% from July to 132.8 in August, hitting a record high, according to the NAR survey since January 2001. Contract signings are 24.2% higher from the year-ago period as well.

It is worth mentioning that August marks the fourth consecutive month of gains as well as the third year-over-year rise since the pandemic hit the housing market hard. All four major U.S. regions notched growth in August, with the West seeing the biggest improvement.

Apart from record pending home sales numbers, there were a couple of indicators showing continued strength in the housing market. Last week, the NAR released data that showed that sales of existing homes rose 2.4% in August from July to its highest level since 2006. Sales were up 10.5% from a year ago and back to pre-COVID-19 levels of early 2020. Also, the Commerce Department’s new home sales increased 4.8% in August from July and a remarkable 43% from August 2019.

Meanwhile, the NAR Housing Market Recovery Index indicated that the greatest recoveries have been recorded in the Seattle, Las Vegas, Boston, Denver and Philadelphia areas.

“Tremendously low mortgage rates – below 3% – have again helped pending home sales climb in August,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. The average U.S. mortgage rate for a

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Toilet contractors chase Bawumia for their cash

General News of Thursday, 1 October 2020



The Angry Contractors at a press conferenceThe Angry Contractors at a press conference

A group of contractors calling itself New World Contractors Association of Ghana are chasing the Akufo-Addo government for failing to pay them their monies after they were contracted to build toilets in different parts of the country.

At a press conference to register their displeasure, the aggrieved contractors said they were awarded contracts between the period 2017 and 2019 and were asked to pre-finance to a certain point before they are paid.

“Contractors were to pre-finance the project and after 60% completion, the amount involved shall be paid to the contractor,” they said in a statement “We are stating that all contractors have complied and fulfilled the first part of the agreement; however, not a pesewa has been paid any of us.”

They are angry because despite piling pressure on the government, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, had listed their projects as the government’s achievements during a town hall meeting.

“The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia in delivering his address on the infrastructure projects executed by his government made reference to a lot of the projects we have done,” they said and asked “How can we be denied our money but for the government to claim credit for those projects?”

They said they “see this as a deliberate attempt by the Government and Ghana First Company to kill the spirit of contractors in this regard” adding “Our members procured loans from banks to execute the projects. Now, we are being chased by those banks for repayment.”

Below is their statement;



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Defense contractor charged for allegedly stealing more than $12.8M in PPP funds

A defense contractor in Hawaii has been charged with bank fraud and money laundering for stealing more than $12.8 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money. 

Martin Kao, CEO of Martin Defense Group LLC, previously known as Navatek LLC, is being arrested on two counts of bank fraud and five counts of money laundering. He is accused of at least two fraudulent PPP loan applications.

Out of the $12.8 million he received, Kao transferred more than $2 million into his own personal accounts, a criminal complaint said.

“According to the charges, Kao falsely inflated the number of employees on the loan application and falsely certified that the applicant and its affiliates would not receive, and had not received, another PPP loan,” the U.S. attorney’s office in Hawaii said in a statement.

The PPP is a program established by Congress in March that provides forgivable loans to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Kao is one of dozens of people who have been charged with fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars from the PPP through the program.

Democrats on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said last week that more than $3 billion in loans issued through the coronavirus emergency relief program for small businesses may have gone to firms that already received support or should have been excluded from the program.

Lawmakers are continuing to negotiate another coronavirus stimulus bill, which will likely at least partially replenish the PPP.

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New BDR website offers streamlined experience for contractors

SEATTLE, Oct. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Business Development Resources (BDR), the training authority for home services professionals, has launched a new website that provides contractors with improved access and deeper training and educational resources, like podcasts, articles by BDR experts, and class file downloads. The new site enhances BDR’s online presence and supports their mission of helping contractors succeed by empowering them to increase revenue, offer top customer experience and create long-term business strategies.

“Making life easier for contractors has always been a top priority for us,” said Bruce Wiseman, BDR’s owner and president. “We want to connect them efficiently and directly with all the resources we have available so they can take full advantage of our industry-leading training and insights. Our new website is a major step that will allow us to offer more training opportunities and give our customers easier and faster access to our material.”

The new site, designed and built by BxB Media, offers improved navigation, enhanced video and audio options and streamlined access to BDR’s industry-leading training and event information. An interactive learning management system that will directly connect users with BDR’s extensive library of online training courses and material will be available later in 2020.

“There’s been critical demand for online training in recent months, and it’s not going to decrease even when we’re on the other side of the coronavirus situation,” Wiseman said. “Contractors have learned that virtual training offers flexibility and efficiency. It won’t be a permanent replacement for in-person training events, but it’s an avenue for professional learning that’s growing, and we want to stay at the forefront in our industry by offering the best tools.”  

For more information about BDR and its online training opportunities, visit

About BDR
BDR (Business Development Resources) is the premier provider

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